The first man who received a government-approved COVID-19 vaccine, William Shakespeare of England, has died after being injected in early December. He was 81.
According to reports, it’s not clear why Shakespeare passed, but there is no indication that the coronavirus or the vaccine was related to his death.
Shakespeare was actually the second person to receive the vaccine, but the first man to get one; his jab followed that of 91-year-old Margaret Keenan while both were patients at University Hospital Coventry, the BBC reported Tuesday.
“Coventry councilor Jayne Innes, a friend of Mr. Shakespeare, said he had died on Thursday and added the ‘best tribute to Bill is to have the jab,'” the BBC reported.
Shakespeare was a fixture in his community in Allesley for more than 30 years. He was an inpatient at the hospital’s geriatric ward when he received his first COVID-19 vaccine dose, calling the experience “wonderful.”
In a Facebook post, Innes noted, “Bill will be remembered for many things, including a taste for mischief.”
She went on to note that Shakespeare, who shares a famous name with perhaps the greatest English playwright, poet, and actor, was proud to have been from Coventry, once serving as the head of Allesley Primary and Coundon Court schools.
He leaves behind a wife, Joy, two adults sons and a number of grandchildren.
“Bill made global headlines as [the first] man to have Covid vaccine,” wrote the West Midlands Labour group on Twitter. “His decades of service to the party were recently recognised by Keir Starmer. Our thoughts are with Joy and Bill’s family and friends.”
We're sorry to hear of the death of Coventry Labour stalwart Bill Shakespeare. Bill made global headlines as 1st first man to have Covid vaccine. His decades of service to the party were recently recognised by @Keir_Starmer. Our thoughts are with Joy and Bill's family & friends. pic.twitter.com/ANCTeGFYEs
— West Midlands Labour (@WMLabour) May 24, 2021
“At the time, much was played on the fact that he was called William Shakespeare and was from Warwickshire, but the pensioner was a fiercely proud Coventrian according to his friends,” the Daily Mail added. “Bill, as he was known, passed away after a period of illness on Thursday at the same hospital where he famously received his vaccine.”
Shakespeare was administered the Pfizer vaccine, and at the time praised hospital staff. “I need to say, the staff at this hospital are wonderful,” he noted.
As for his life, Shakespeare’s family believes he actually is related to the renowned “Bard.”
“Around 86 per cent sure we are. Bill’s ancestors closely follow Coventry’s past with the industry there. And I have glimpsed a connection with the ‘Kerseley branch’ of the Bard’s descendants,” his niece, Emily Shakespeare, a Ph.D. candidate at Waterford Institute of Technology in Ireland, tweeted at the time.
“He was such a lovely man, one who had a real commitment to making his local area better,” Innes said, the Daily Mail noted.
“During lockdown local families will have enjoyed walking amongst the trees planted by Bill and his colleagues in Allesley back in the 1980s,” she added. “He was also very involved with the creation of the Coundon Wood in 2005 and in fundraising for the purchase of Elkin Wood, now managed by the Woodland Trust in 1997.
“Bill was a life-long campaigner, so he was delighted to be able to help encourage everyone to have the vaccine in order to return to all the things we enjoy in life. I’ve had my first. Having our jabs is the best tribute we can all pay Bill,” she noted further.
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